Sunday, September 16, 2012

In the Minangkabau Highlands: Lake Maninjau

Danau Maninjau, located about 35 miles to the west of Bukkittinggi, in the lush highlands of West Sumatra, is an ancient volcanic lake. 

The drive there alone could be the highlight of one's life. The different shades and hues of green explode into your field of vision.  

The carnival at the end of the Earth. Couldn't help but think of Ray Bradbury.

Rice paddies stretched to the base of tiny villages and forested hills as the omnipresent trashburns of Sumatra offered their gray smoke to the skies.

The last stage of the drive includes forty-four hairpin turns and switchbacks, slowly making our way from the rim of the ancient caldera down to the lakeside.  The word picturesque ften comes up in traveler's tales of Lake Maninjau.

After settling into our modest lakeside bungalow, we made a bee-line for the waters' edge as we had heard reports of this being a glorious swimming lake.  The water was foreboding and choppy in the late afternoon, but the magical sky above left our jaws unhinged.

Ethereal beams of sunlight poured through lurid rainclouds as we plopped down on greasy sand.  Danau Maninjau was created 52,000 years ago when a massive volcano had its fiery denouement.  Gazing out at this inscrutable landscape, it came to mind that not much has changed here since then. 

If there is a heaven, it just may resemble a stormy afternoon on the shores of Danau Maninjau.

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